Phil Sears/USA TODAY
The Magic made their second trip to Jacksonville for a preseason game in the last decade when they opened up their preseason against the New Orleans Pelicans. Despite it being the preseason, the game proved to be an exciting one as Victor Oladipo racked up an impressive steals total and the game came down to the last possession.
It also proved to be profitable, according to David Chapman of the Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record:
"No. 1, it was a great crowd," said Alan Verlander, city Sports and Entertainment director. "And No. 2, we made a profit, that's huge."
According to Chapman, the city and SMG combined to bring in a $10,632 profit on the game. This, Chapman notes, is a major turnaround from the Navy-Marine Corps. Classic game the city hosted in 2012 between Florida and Georgetown played on a U.S. aircraft carrier. That game resulted in a $736,000 loss for the city and nearly drained the city's sports trust fund. It probably did not help that the game was eventually canceled mid-stream because of condensation that developed on teh court.
A more low-key preseason game involving the Magic at the Jacksonville War Veterans Memorial Arena is obviously a much less riskier proposition for the city to put on and there is a chance for continued success. More than 6,700 tickets were sold and attendance was better than 8,000 — approximately 59 percent of the stadium's capacity. The Magic's attendance at Amway Center for preseason games this year sat at 13,255 — approximately 70 percent of Amway Center's listed capacity.
Orlando has played two games in Jacksonville in the last decade, also playing Miami in 2008 at the Veteran's Memorial Stadium. The Magic also used to hold their training camp in Jacksonville. That probably will not happen again. But if the Magic want to become North Florida's NBA team — something they already have a foothold in doing thanks to Fox Sports Florida's coverage map for the team — an annual preseason game in Jacksonville would do the trick.
There is no word from the Magic whether they have any immediate plans to return to Jacksonville for preseason games or anything else. But if Jacksonville is willing to host a game and it remains profitable, there is no reason not to think it would happen.
They have expressed some interest in building the basketball community in Jacksonville some by introducing an NBA D-League team in North Florida to use as a 1-on-1 affiliate. Those plans will largely work behind the scenes for at least another year.
Until then, Jacksonville NBA fans will either have to trek 2.5 hours south to Orlando or wait until next October for the possibility of another preseason game.